The Charlotte Hornets garnered two second round picks by sending the No. 11 pick, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, to the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 12, Miles Bridges. It’s the second significant trade of new general manager Mitch Kupchak’s tenure, after the Hornets previously dealt Dwight Howard to Brooklyn. Let’s forgo any more introduction and jump right to the grades.
This draft night trade is a savvy move from the veteran executive, leveraging knowledge of the Clippers’ interest in a point guard to acquire two additional selections. The Hornets don’t boast a ton of financial flexibility after absorbing Timofey Mosgov’s contract, and non-guaranteed deals for second rounders are a fantastic option to circumvent any cap restrictions. However, I’m lower than most on Miles Bridges. Of the drafts’ top wings, Bridges has the clearest set of limitations: he’s best suited to play power forward, but has the physical dimensions of a shooting guard and struggled in his transition to playing primarily on the wing in college. His jumper looked more fluid as a sophomore, shooting 36.5% from three but improving his free throw by nearly 20 ticks to 86.5%, and that will help at the next level, but I’m skeptical that Bridges will be successful in the NBA’s perimeter game. I respect Charlotte’s strategic maneuvering, but don’t necessarily value the player it led to.
Los Angeles sacrificed two future selections just to move up one selection, but that price will be well worth the cost should Gilgeous-Alexander ascend to his lofty ceiling. Many executives around the league value the Kentucky product as the premier point guard prospect in this draft. Gilgeous-Alexander is a 6’6″ point guard with a 6’11.5″ wingspan, who shot 40.4% from three, 81.7% from the line, grabbed 4.1 rebounds and dished 5.1 assists in a pro-style John Calipari system in college. He ran 499 pick-and-rolls during his lone collegiate season, per Synergy Sports, good for 18th in the country while generating a solid 0.99 points per possession. What more can you ask for in a modern-era NBA point guard?
The Clippers followed up the pick and the trade by selecting Boston College shooting guard Jerome Robinson at No. 13, a player L.A. executive Jerry West was widely known in league circles for coveting. After all of the Clippers’ roster movement over the last 12 months, Los Angeles was clearly lacking promising backcourt pieces of the future. Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson may very well blossom into a formidable duo, and that aspect has to be factored into this trade grade. DeAndre Jordan’s impending free agency leaves the Clippers’ front court in a much murkier standing, but for now, the Clippers have a solid start to their pivotal first offseason post-Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.